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Estate of Kurth

Estate of Kurth, 2016 MT 188 (Aug. 9, 2016) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court abused its discretion in granting Barstis’s motion to amend, denying Puryers’ motion to amend, and concluding that Kurth died intestate; and (2) whether the district court erred in awarding costs to Barstis.

Short Answer: (1) No; and (2) no.


Facts: Paul Kurth died in January 2000 at age 82 in Missoula. He had never married and had no children. Before his death, he lived for several years with his niece and her husband, Sinda and Marty Puryer, in Kalispell. In February 1998, Marty hand wrote a document entitled the last will and testament of Paul Kurth. Marty claims that Kurth dictated the contents of the document to him and signed it in his presence and the presence of one other person.…

Estate of Harris

Estate of Harris, 2015 MT 182 (June 30, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly allowed probate of Dorothea Harris’s estate, and (2) whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to Harris on Contestants’ objections.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, overruling Estate of Taylor, and (2) yes.


Facts: Dorothea Harris’s surviving adult children (Contestants) challenge the informal probate initiated by their stepfather, Lincoln Harris, as well as the validity of a will devising to Harris all of the mineral rights from their mother’s estate. Dorothea married Lincoln in 1965 after the death of her first husband, who was the natural father of the three Contestants as well as a fourth child, Theodore, who died in 1997.…

Estate of Quirin

Estate of Quirin, 2015 MT 132 (May 19, 2015) (Wheat, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly confirmed probate of the 2010 will; and (2) whether the district court erred by issuing an order inconsistent with the pretrial order.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) no.


Facts: Violet Quirin died on Jan. 10, 2011, and was survived by two adult daughters, Mavoureen Speiser and Cathie Schmiedeke. Quirin executed three wills – on Nov. 16, 2005, March 1, 2007, and June 23, 2010. In the first two wills, Quirin divided her property equally between her daughters, but in the 2010 will she gave them nothing, instead dividing her estate among friends and charitable organizations.

Quirin drafted the 2010 will with attorney Nancy Moe.…

Estate of Lawlor

Estate of Lawlor, 2015 MT 54 (Feb. 24, 2015) (Wheat, J.; McKinnon, J. dissenting) (5-2, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in holding that Audrey lacked standing to contest Dennis’s will, and (2) whether the district court erred in determining that Audrey lacked standing to petition for the removal of the PR for cause.

Short Answer: (1) yes, and (2) no.

Reversed on (1), affirmed on (2)

Facts: Dennis Lawlor executed a will on Dec. 6, 2012, and died the next day. He had no children, and was survived by three siblings, Antoinette, Mary, and John. His sister Joan predeceased him, and was survived by her daughter, Audrey, and Audrey’s son, John. The will devised all of Dennis’s estate to his living sisters, Antoinette and Mary.…

Estate of Bennett

Estate of Bennett, 2013 MT 230 (Aug. 20, 2013) (7-0) (Rice, J.)

Issue: Whether the Court should issue a writ of supervisory control over the lower court’s order holding that the Bennetts are not entitled to damages from the wrongful death of their adult son.

Short Answer: Yes. Wrongful death damages are personal to the survivors, and are not controlled by intestate succession statutes.

Writ granted

Estate of Greene

Estate of Greene, 2013 MT 174 (July 2, 2013) (5-0) (McGrath, C.J.)

Issue: Whether the district court properly denied William Greene’s motion to substitute the district judge.

Short Answer: Yes. The substitution statute’s 30-day deadline does not apply to an informal probate, and is not triggered until a party petitions to covert the proceeding to a court-supervised administration.